Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men

In episode 195 of Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, “Professor” was finally revealed as Ship and I finally got a shout out from the Angry Claremontian Narrator on my favourite podcast!

For those of you who don’t know, Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men is “a weekly podcast where we walk you through the convoluted continuity of our favorite superhero soap opera!” In essence, they explore X-Men and the wider Marvel mutant mess with a critical eye and an appropriate levity. I’m always eager for each week’s episode because they are uniformly so damn good.

“Daunted by complex chronologies? Terrified by time travel? Confounded by clones? We are here for you. We have trained intensively for this responsibility for decades. We have the backissues, the calluses, and a really detailed map of the Summers family tree.” – Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men Patreon

Neil Kirby on This Week in Marvel

The latest segment shared by the This Week in Marvel podcast features Neil Kirby, son of Jack Kirby. The interview touches on Jack’s legacy and Neil makes a point of highlighting his father’s passionate defence of workers’ rights and his insistence on standing up to bullies of all stripes. As Neil says in the interview, “That’s the kind of guy he was. You know, the whole being socially conscious and so on, that ran through him as part of what he was. I think it’s important that people remember him for that as much as for his art work and his contributions to comics.” This is a great way to become acquainted with one of the creators who shaped the very best of the comics medium.

“The son of Jack Kirby joins the official Marvel podcast to help celebrate his dad’s 99th birthday! Discussion includes lessons learned from Captain America, what makes Thor special, and much more!”

 

French Milk (and Stop Paying Attention)

I started reading Lucy Knisley‘s Stop Paying Attention webcomic several years ago. It could be insightful and the art was always very well done. A favourite strip of mine is “Being Awkward vs Awkward Situations“.

I hadn’t read any of Lucy’s collected work until last week when I picked up French Milk. It’s an autobiographical account of a visit to Paris, relationships with parents and eating food. Travel and food comics are two of my favourite genres, so I was excited to dive in.

The art didn’t disappoint me. Lucy’s drawings are clear, charming and are superb vehicles for revealing both Paris and the emotional world Lucy inhabited. There was a lot to admire in visual aspects of the work and it was a joy to look at the art throughout the book.

The book is a travel and food memoir, but it is also very clearly concerned with anxieties of growing up and familial relationships. There are many poignant moments and the account seems very honest. As a snapshot of a 22-year-old artist, I think it’s excellent.

A problem I did notice was Lucy’s apparent ignorance of privilege. This may be a reflection of a young artist’s self-absorption, but it was jarring at points to read complaints, celebrations and self-pity over things that would be trivial or extravagant for many, if not most, of us. Reviewers also picked up on this flaw, and I think it’s a valid reason to be hesitant in wholeheartedly recommending the book. I see evidence of growth beyond this in Stop Paying Attention, so I believe Lucy’s incredible talent won’t be dulled by that distraction in the same way again, and I can look past the contracted character to see excellent storytelling.

Lucy’s latest book, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen was released in April to a lot of praise. Lucy’s website and Tumblr are both full of excellent content.

O Human Star

I caught up with Blue Delliquanti‘s O Human Star just a few minutes ago and am left deeply impressed. The comic is full of emotional resonance, the art is very expressive and the storytelling is excellent. It hits so many of the points I most value in comics, which has placed it among the comics I most look forward to each week.

Blue is especially deft at portraying relationships, with obvious attention paid to the nuances of conflict and genuine tenderness. This sensitivity was clearly valuable in presenting the same-sex relationship that is central to the story and grounds the story amid the robots and other science fiction elements that also have importance in the story.

The science fiction elements strike me as reminiscent of Osamu Tezuka’s work on Astroboy. Similar tensions are present for artificial lifeforms in this work as exist for the robots in many of Tezuka’s works, and it works very well in O Human Star.

Throughout the comic each character is very relatable and so far each chapter has been surprisingly moving. I can’t recommend O Human Star highly enough.

Alastair Sterling was the inventor who sparked the robot revolution. And because of his sudden death, he didn’t see any of it.

Until he wakes up 16 years later in an advanced robotic body that matches his old one exactly. Until he steps outside and finds a world utterly unlike the one he left behind – a world where robots live and do business alongside their human neighbors and coexist in their cities. A world he helped create.

Al seeks out his old research partner Brendan to find out if he is responsible for Al’s unexpected resurrection, but his return raises far more questions for both of them.

Like who the robot living with Brendan is. And why she looks like Al. And how much of the men’s past should stay in the past…

O Human Star is one of the winners of the 2012 Prism Comics Queer Press Grant, an annual grant awarded to cartoonists publishing comics that feature LGBT characters and themes.

Magical Game Time

Zac Gorman‘s Magical Game Time is a webcomic and art blog that captures the emotional appeal of playing video games and the nostalgia that many of us have for the games we have played. Zac’s art is evocative, enchanting and show a genuine love for the storytelling that video games can do so well.

I played many Nintendo games while I was growing up, so Magical Game Time feels perfect for me. The Legend of Zelda and Metroid pieces Zac has created are especially appealing to me because of the history I have with both series’ games. There’s a tenderness and humour in those comics and images that emphasizes the elements of games that most draw me into them.

Zac has also brought his wonderful comics craft to an original story, Escape from Burgertown. The comic has only four pages so far, but it is shaping up to be every bit as endearing as Zac’s other comics.

Escape from Burgertown is about the residents of a futuristic world—where things aren’t so great—told mostly from the perspective of a few children who accept their world at face value.

Sort of like if Peanuts took place in a bleak, corporate-run future.

a Bite of Buenos Aires

Two of my favourite comic genres are food comics and travel comics, and a Bite of Buenos Aires excited me because it was both. +Linus Nyström has created a webcomic that brings the experience of being in a foreign city vividly to life.

The comic details Linus’ time wintering in Argentina with a focus on local food and culture. I was pleased to see a couple pages about Yerba Mate, a drink I enjoy a lot. The comic is filled with other small, revealing moments about life in what seems to be a thrilling city.

Linus has translated the webcomic from its original Swedish and it is mostly very clear.

My name is Linus Nyström and I’m an illustrator. At the moment, I live in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and this is my travel diary.

Linus also has a portfolio full of great pieces.

Opplopolis

Kit Roebuck‘s Nine Planets Without Intelligent Life was one of my favourite webcomic reads as it was being published, and I was thrilled when Kit started publishing the followup project, Opplopolis. The comic a wonderful mashup of alternate history, retro futurism, strange happenings and mystery.

An esoteric ensemble of characters scour the city of Opplopolis for clues to the mysterious Marvedyne. 

Kit has brought the cast of characters and their world so vividly to life that the very strange events in the story remain grounded in the superbly rendered environment and well developed characters. Little touches such as having a boy demand a Sega Saturn in exchange for information reveal the story’s time, while clones, shapeshifters and other oddities are fun, surprising and meaningful.

Opplopolis is published twice each week in instalments of two pages. So far, issues 1, 2, 3, and 4 have been completed and issue 5 is underway.

Podcast Recommendations: Fitness, Creation, Technology and Mashups

I love podcasts and enjoy sharing my excitement about them. There is a wealth of wonderful audio content being created and freely shared on the internet, so it can be easy to not be in the know about excellent talk on a wide range of . Here are four of my favourite ‘casts.


Technically Fit and Healthy

Tony C. Smith has been one of my favourite podcasters for years through his StarShipSofa science fiction ‘cast. When he started a podcast about the use of technology to improve health and fitness, an interest I share with him, I was on board from the start. Technically Fit and Healthy looks at new health-related gadgets, the lifestyle changes that can come along with using technology well and emerging technologies that can improve health. Tony and his guests bring a very grounded perspective to a growing and exciting field.

Welcome to Technically Fit and Healthy, a weekly podcast/blog dedicated to exploring the topics of health and fitness and the latest cutting-edge technology related to both. If you want to get fit and stay healthy, check out Technically Fit and Healthy to discover the ideal technology to help you achieve your goals. Join host Tony C. Smith as he provides news updates, product and app reviews, and interviews, and welcomes expert guests. If technology can assist your health and enhance your fitness, then Technically Fit and Healthy will cover it, from Wi-Fi scales and wearable activity trackers to health and fitness apps and the latest tech trends and fads in the wellness industry. You don’t have to go it alone! Let technology be your partner and Technically Fit and Healthy be your guide.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know began about a year ago and features interviews with a diverse group of creators. The interviews usually take listeners behind the scenes of the creative process and the business aspects of delivering creative works. The guests have included Faith Erin Hicks, Eric Skillman, Jasdeep Khaira and Mike Mignola, among other notable artists. The insight provided by the hosts —who are all respected creators in their own rights— fosters interesting discussions each time. If you are at all interested in creative work, I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know is an interview podcast by Jim Rugg and Jasen Lex. We like to hear how and why people make the stuff they do, and we thought you might like to hear that too.

TMSIDK is produced and hosted by three talented cartoonists and illustrators:

Jim Rugg, a Pittsburgh-based comic book artist, graphic designer, zinemaker, and writer best known for Afrodisiac, The Plain Janes, and Street Angel.

Jasen Lex is a designer and illustrator from Pittsburgh. He is currently working on a graphic novel called Washington Unbound. All of his art and comics can be found at jasenlex.com.

Ed Piskor is the cartoonist who drew the comic, Wizzywig, and draws the Brain Rot/ Hip Hop Family Tree comic strip at this very site, soon to be collected by Fantagraphics Books.

Spark

One of Canada’s great threatened treasures is our national broadcaster, the CBC. Spark is one of CBC Radio’s best shows, and its focus on how technology works in our lives is important. Spark brings the big ideas and advancements in technology into a personal scope by putting an emphasis on how people live with emerging and existing technologies in daily life. In a recent episode, “Get it, Keep it, Fix it“, the discussion was around keeping and reusing gadgets over time, a view many of us enthusiasts don’t take often enough. It’s that kind of attention to overlooked aspects of our world that makes Spark so valuable.

We used to think of technology as something outside of our daily lives. Now, it is part of everything we do – our work, our schools, how we spend our downtime, and the way we connect with others.

Spark reflects life in 21st Century Canada. With one eye on the future, host Nora Young guides you through this dynamic era of technology-led change, and connects your life to the big ideas changing our world right now.

The Night Air

Public broadcasting is dear to my socialist heart, and my last recommendation comes from Australia’s public broadcaster, ABC. The Night Air ended broadcast in January, but still is a testament to how good audio programming can be. The show consisted of incredible mashups of content from other broadcasts into a surprisingly coherent but undeniably eclectic whole that was more beautiful, moving and informative than its constituent parts. The show highlighted topics as diverse as “Mermaids“, “Noir“, “Space Doubt“, “Library Music” and “Egypt“. The Night Air is an experience that makes years of archives worth exploring.

Animated by dub versions of ABC Radio National’s distinctive programming, obliquely connected material is re-assembled with sonic glue allowing the listener’s imagination to build a new story. The Night Air is a space to find the music in speech and the poetry in ideas, a show that invites you to take time to unravel the usual media tangle.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant‘s adventure grabbed me immediately. It’s full of the oversized danger and excitement that the best pulp adventure stories hold, and is expressed through pages of dynamic and beautiful art. What really makes the comic special is the expressive cast, especially the delightful title characters. Tony Cliff has created a lighthearted comic that is a joy to read.

The full book is available to read on the website, and will be published in print this year through First Second. A second volume, Delilah Dirk and the Seeds of Good Fortune, is not yet available digitally and its print version does not seem to be available as I write this.

In 19th-century Turkey, an officer in the Janissary army must struggle to repay a brash adventuress for saving his life, even though she was the one who endangered it in the first place. The webcomic unfolds with four or six new pages each Saturday. The number of pages varies each week in service to the story, usually determined by which page would make a more cruel, heart-wrenching cliffhanger.